Sunday, January 2, 2011

learning to listen.

it has now been a year that I have had this blog.
isn't time so strange? it goes by so so fast, but then again when I think of how long we've been married sometimes its like "its ONLY been 2 years?" because I can't believe 3 short years ago I didn't even know Evan existed.

Any way, I realize that its been a while since I've posted something in my original fashion.
some type of a writer's block, I guess. But, here's another one.

So, I've said it before, and I will say it again:
I love my mom.
There is a long, long string of stories that precede this one, but I'll keep it simple.
My mom's husband passed away New Year's Eve.
yesterday (New Year's Day) was their 6th anniversary.
Now that he is gone, there are many what-would-have-been's to think of.
But my mom, the amazing woman she is, told me that she can't let herself be upset over things that she has no control over. Despite the sometimes overwhelming sadness that she of course feels at times, she trusts the Lord enough to know that there is a reason for things to happen the way they have. and she trusts that the Lord's plan is better than any plan she could ever come up with.

There is an article in this months Ensign that I turned to while contemplating how I could help my mom through this hard time. All I wanted was to be with her and cry with her. Since that wasn't possible, I prayed for her to be comforted, because that was all I felt I could do. (and after talking with her yesterday, it turned out to be enough.)
I loved this article, and one excerpt will appropriately lead me to my main point...(I know, I still haven't made it yet, sheesh. sorry I forgot to put that disclaimer about length at the beginning.)

[talking about how to serve those who are sick and afflicted] "Often, what is needed most is for us to be prayerful and to listen without giving advice or platitudes. People who are suffering don't need our explanations for their condition. Our well-meaning attempts to put the situation in perspective (our perspective) can unintentionally come across as demeaning or insensitive."

Now, maybe I have been terribly misinformed, but I have always considered myself a good listener. Perhaps as a result of my thoughts and feelings not being listened to for the majority of my life, or maybe its just one of those spiritual blessings I happened to be blessed with. Either way, I have considered myself such.

I feel that if someone is explaining to you their feelings, especially, but not limited to, something very private and close to their heart, it is insensitive to say something like "Oh yeah, I've totally felt that way before," "I know exactly how you feel, this one time [goes into story about themselves]," or "that's exactly how I felt when...". To me, that is minimizing that person's feelings, and taking the subject away from them. I know that many times things like that are said in attempt to relate and maybe make the person feel like they're not alone, but for me personally I would rather have someone acknowledge my feelings by truly listening with small affirmation sounds and nods, and asking appropriate questions to find out more about my feelings, than to interrupt me to tell me how my feelings aren't that big of a deal, because they've felt them before too, and continue to tell me a story about themselves.
Candace: sometimes I feel like dying.
Laura: oh Candace, I'm so sorry. I've totally felt that way before. When I was 17, I blah blah blah blah.....

Does that not sound insensitive? does that not diminish the importance of what Candace just said? I would think that Candace had much more to say to go along with that. If I had someone listening to me who was like Laura, I would feel like she wasn't truly listening, and I wouldn't feel inclined to continue on, because I would probably have to bring up the subject again since she already changed it.
The article outlines great ways to help those in need, no matter what their circumstances. I think its funny how simple the qualities are that it takes to make up a good listener, yet they can seem very hard to come by.


  1. That post made me LAUGH OUT LOUD...giiiiirl, you gotta come to Florida!!!! It is so fun and cultured. FUN about your cruise!!!!! and so jealous. I NEED A VACATION to a beach with sun. You two are so cute and I LOVE your short hair, and I LOVE Evan's short hair. You guys rock.

  2. I don't necessarily mind the "I've felt something similiar" type comments, because I truly don't want to feel alone (although the launching into a story about themselves is annoying). I have so many times had people follow up a comment I've made about Cora with "at least..." (I don't think that any comment starting with "at least" is a good one) or "isn't it great that you'll see her again?"

    Yes. It is. But the point is I hurt right now and it sucks.

    Anyway, I'm glad you are able to help your mom. And yes, prayers are more powerful to the receiver than the prayer can possibly understand.


  3. beautiful quote. i'm so happy you and your mom have a good relationship :)

    you are an awesome listener. that being said, i am going to apologize for probably not listening very well to YOU all the times that we've talked. i'm bad at the "relating" comments- too many. oops. anyways, yes, sometimes people can't seem to muster enough sympathy. JUST sympathy, don't make it about you. just be there, however they may need it.